Common Core Arrives as New School Year Begins

After months of debate and controversy, the Common Core standards started for Florida students of all ages Monday. From seniors in high school all the way down to kindergartners, students and teachers are facing a new set of standards for the school year.

“Our kindergartners, when they graduate from high school, the will be looking at careers that are not even in existence right now,” said Maria DeArmas of Miami-Dade Schools. “So we really need to think about preparing students in a very different way, in a way that allows them to be independent learners, that allows them to think critically at much higher levels.”

Schools in Miami-Dade and Broward County have been slowly easing into the Common Core standards for the past couple of years. The goal was to make a smooth transition to a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking over simply memorizing facts.

The Common Core curriculum was developed by a consortium of states over the past few years. It drew criticism from some as a federal government overreach. The states in the consortium control the curriculum that is put into the program.

“This is about the kind of skills that our students will need,” said Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. “So we’re moving away from a world where students memorize content and they fill out multiple choice questions and we figure out what they know. So I see an opportunity to better engage kids and help build skills that they need.”

Still, Superintendent Runcie and Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho say jumping into the Common Core is tougher because the Florida tests haven’t been released and there could be some problems grading schools.

“The transition to new standards and a new assessment that is much tougher, with standards that are more complex, will result statewide in the rapid decline in performance so that the A’s of yesterday will become the C’s of today,” said Superintendent Carvalho.

While the FCAT replacement hasn’t been released, the state did release some sample questions for the new tests. Click here to see some of the questions from the upcoming tests.

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